THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a bit of a juxtaposition between simple and custom integration. If what we do is too simple, then who will be willing to pay the big bucks for our work?
However, spend a day as a fly on the wall in any room where an integrator has failed to make it simple and you can listen to executive after executive curse out their touchpanel because all they want to do is display their PowerPoint.
The truth is, simple is the ultimate elegance and it’s also a great challenge in the work of an integrator. When the systems are done in a way where they are truly simple, there is usually an immense amount of work, customization, and programming.
What Lies Ahead
The world in 2001 didn’t quite live up to Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. But in every vision of the future lies a little bit of truth.
In 1968, had we pictured 2016, we may not have envisioned walking up and down the street having people staring into a pocket-size device that was exponentially more powerful than the PC.
Furthermore, we would never have guessed that people would be incessantly staring at these devices chasing around invisible Pokémon or connecting them to headsets that allowed us to virtually immerse ourselves in travel, sports, and gaming.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the last year we have seen the rapid proliferation of artificial intelligence-driven chatbots that leave us unsure whether we are talking to humans or machines.
Uber has put automobiles on the road that require no drivers.
We have installed objects like Amazon Echo and Google Home that can now listen to us, search for us, shop for us, and control our environments.
As laws about data, privacy, and the ethics of artificial intelligence continue to evolve, we may even see these devices become listening devices in our homes for big brands willing to pay enough for our offline data and law enforcement looking to predict and solve crimes.
The Impact on Commercial Integration
It’s easy to read all of this and say, “So what,” this isn’t affecting us. We are commercial integrators and AI, chatbots, IoT, and mobile aren’t core to what we do.
In many ways that statement is fair, because to date with those technologies, except for mobile, it is true.
However, I want you to picture something. You walk into the corporate meeting room. There is a display on the wall. It’s large, has a thin profile, and is wireless (except for power).
This device can instantly connect to any mobile device that comes into the room, simply by proximity, and can be fully controlled using voice commands.
The device gets smarter as it is used more often and it begins to know its users’ behaviors as well as their voices so it can even predictively launch applications as well as read apps like calendars to understand the technological needs of a meeting.
Three team members enter with you. You say, “launch meeting” and your collaboration suite launches, calls all the meeting attendees anywhere they are, and instantly, with no control system, no wires, no installed infrastructure, and no appliances, there are eight people staring at one another from three states, four countries, and two continents.
To some extent, this sounds like the future, but really it isn’t. This is today. This is the way AI, IoT, deep learning, and mobile are impacting our industry.
Sure, we can continue to sell the “panel” that gets hung on the wall, but so can Amazon.
The beauty of all of this technological advancement is it is a road paved with opportunity. If integrators see these trends as opportunities and partner with their vendors to advance adoption, and leverage the potential, they can emerge into the future with a new subset of offerings that meet new customer expectations while embracing the power of technology.
If we continue to run from the future, we may see yet a few more good years of traditional integration projects, but I am confident that time will come to an end as we know it.
From the time 2001 was made in 1968 until 2001, we had more than three decades to see what would come to fruition. However, you could say we’ve made more technological progress in the past five years than we made in the five decades before that.
And guess what, it will only get faster.
This means that for “integrators,” simple must take on a new meaning. If it doesn’t, the future may not be as bright as one would hope, because the elegance of simplicity will no longer lie in the complexity of our programming, but our ability to master the technological change that is driving the future.
This article was originally published by our content partner Commercial Integrator.